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Lehigh’s hidden gem for fresh produce

By MELISSA BILL - | Apr 14, 2021

Country Harvest Farms Market and Nursery, at 2300 Joel Blvd., Alva, is open seasonally from Oct. 1 to April 30, Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PHOTO PROVIDED

news@breezenewspapers.com

Lehigh Acres is not normally known for its abundance of fresh produce — not until Country Harvest Farms Market and Nursery came along. Currently named Sugar Sweet Produce, Country Harvest Market was opened in 2019 by owners Michelle Williams and Tracy Burden.

The produce market is at 2300 Joel Blvd., and sells a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as other items including fresh honey, eggs, and herbs, plus a variety of plants and fresh cut flowers during the holidays. Local fishing enthusiasts can also find bait, including earthworms and nightcrawlers.

According to Williams, Country Harvest prides itself on carrying produce that comes mainly from local farms. Burden and Williams also grow some of the produce they sell from within their own home farm.

“We try to keep it as a local as possible. My dad knows a lot of local farms so we go to those farmers and get the produce directly from their fields. This is how we can assure that we are selling produce that is fresh. Produce like tomatoes are often gassed by larger grocery stores to preserve them for the trip and give them a longer shelf life,” Williams.

Owner/partners Tracy Burden and Michelle Williams first began their fresh produce business in 2016 on Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers and eventually expanded to reach out to the various mobile home parks in LaBelle.

“Two years ago an opportunity presented itself here in Lehigh Acres. After 30 years in business, Patricia Driscoll, a long-time friend and the previous owner of 23rd Street Produce located on Joel Boulevard passed away from cancer. Produce was her passion and she asked if we could take over the business, which we did. We completely gutted and renovated the produce stand and renamed it Sugar Sweet Produce in 2019,” Williams said.

According to Williams, Patricia Driscoll and her husband also ran other local Lehigh businesses including a popular grill and ice cream parlor next to Lake Camille.

Both Williams and Burden have a long history in the farming industry. Williams also runs a GNC store, and her dad has owned and operated a popular Alva orange grove, which specializes in Seedless Red Valencias.

Burden is originally from Ohio where she helped on her family’s corn field, and with an aunt who lived off the land, raising cows, chickens and hogs.

“I started farming on my own in my 20’s. I helped a friend run a farmers market in Alva prior to opening my own farm and produce business,” Burden said.

Country Harvest Farms Market and Nursery is currently open seasonally from Oct. 1 to April 30.

Days and hours of operations are Thursday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We are looking to open for the summer months as a plant nursery,” Williams said.

Burden and Williams sell straight from their own farm during their off season.

“We sell directly from our own farm during the summer months. August is a great time to buy our watermelons, black eyed peas and pickling cucumbers,” Burden said.

For more information visit Sugar Sweet Produce on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/michellesfarmfreshproduce/.